Congresswoman fields questions on health care, gun violence and climate change

About 25 members of the public gathered at PCC Newberg Sunday for a town hall meeting with congresswoman Suzanne Bonamici and for many of them, the event was simply about democracy in action.

Bonamici, a Democrat, was elected to represent Oregon’s 1st Congressional District in a special election Dec. 31 2012, after the resignation of David Wu. She will face Republican Jason Yates in the general election in November, but the tone of the meeting Sunday appeared to be more about voicing opinions and learning about policy than learning about her as a SETH GORDON - Talking issues - More than two dozen citizens attended a town hall meeting held by Rep. Suzanne Bonamici Sunday in Newberg.

“The reason I wanted to come is because I think it’s a way of participating in the political process,” Tigard resident Bob Warner said. “I’m very concerned about the state of health care. As I said, I am deeply perplexed about the basis for the opposition. There’s no question in my mind it is intentionally political.”

Warner had the opportunity to ask the first of 13 questions or comments put forth to Bonamici, asking whether Democrats running for office would embrace the Affordable Care Act as something truly good for the country.

Because the topic of the meeting was legislative and not political, Bonamici answered by addressing the question in policy terms, saying the ACA and Cover Oregon was about access and not websites.

“I’m concerned, I know that Oregon is considering suing the company that managed the IT portion (of Cover Oregon),” Bonamici said. “I hope we learned a lesson that the state doesn’t have a good record on IT projects. Let’s take that as a lesson that we need to get better with that. But again, there are still people getting insurance here that did not have it before. They’re getting access to health care.”

In addition to covering the legislation that Congress passed in its last session during her introductory statements, Bonamici reiterated that Congress must work to address gun violence in this country in the wake of the recent shooting at Seattle Pacific University.

“Let’s set aside our differences and figure out what we’re going to do about this, whether it be expanding background checks, whether it be increased access to mental health services at the high school and college level,” Bonamici said. “There’s a common thread here. They’re all young men, troubled young men. Where do we intervene and how do we address this issue?”

The congresswoman fielded questions on climate change, senior nutrition, immigration, Benghazi and government waste, but was also lauded by the Newberg Downtown Coalition’s Mike Ragsdale, who expressed appreciation for all the support Bonamici has given to the Newberg-Dundee bypass.

Yamhill farmer Marilyn Blen did ask the representative about the Farm Bill that Congress passed recently, but that wasn’t not what drew her to the meeting.

“I came to listen, actually, to find out what other people’s concerns are because these are my friends and neighbors, even though I don’t know them,” Blen said. “I want to know what is moving them as well.”

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